When we hear the word "modesty", we typically think in terms of how one dresses. While this is part of it, there is actually more to it that goes much deeper. Modesty is an attitude. It is something we cultivate in our hearts that is reflected by how we talk, act, and, yes, even dress.
To be modest is to deflect attention away from oneself. It is to slip quietly into the background unnoticed. It is unassuming. It goes hand in hand with a spirit of humility. It is quiet and simple.
I have seen a number of examples of this in my life. There are those people who take great delight in serving others and truly do not want to be recognized for the effort. They do not want attention. They flee from it. These have a single-minded devotion to our Lord and yearn to please Him entirely without getting any credit from others around them. This is true modesty.
Such people are typically quiet rather than talkative. Even in their actions, their modesty can be seen.
Consequently, these people are very modest in their attire as well. They do not need lists of rules that give exactitude to such things as necklines, or hemlines. They do not need a dress code. Their true modesty from the inside dictates it for them. Modesty in dress is simply to hide that which is not for public viewing. It is in complete keeping with what I have said above. Since the modest person seeks to deflect attention, rather than attract it, he or she dresses accordingly. There is nothing scandalous, or even eye-catching about it. They are unnoticed because they have chosen simplicity and plainness of dress.
It is this characteristic of modesty that characterizes the saints. And it is one of those things that has my attention right now. For while I consider myself modest enough in my attire, I realize that I lack some of the essential qualities of this virture that would make it part of my character. I find that I am too talkative, and that I say and do things that are inconsistent with one who is seeking a modest demeanor. I also realize that I am too caught up in myself to be truly modest. I crave attention and so, to that degree, I have developed a character the very opposite of modesty.
Our society does not put much stock in modesty. It's all about self; even self-exploitation. The more we reveal, shock, and otherwise behave outrageously, the better. So to pursue a truly modest lifestyle is to swim against the current. It is a difficult battle. But it is one that I think worthwhile. It is one I am persuaded I need to do.
There was a time when modesty characterized most Christians. May it be so again soon. But that will require that each of us who are Christians give careful, prayerful, and sober thought to the whole issue. May God give us His Grace to do so today!